With this issue of SPIE Professional, I will be starting my term as president of the Society. I follow in the footsteps of many talented people who have helped to bring about important advances and new activities to SPIE.
In just the recent few years, SPIE, always a strong draw for international participation, has taken great steps to gain more involvement from individuals and groups around the world.
This year we will once again hold Photonics Europe, which continues to grow in importance within the European technical community. In recent years, we have also seen important new conference activities in such areas as Poland, the Czech Republic, Korea, and China as well as ongoing activities in Japan and Germany.
The Board of Directors has also grown even more international, with representatives this year from Asia, (Japan and Singapore), Europe (Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK) as well as Mexico and the United States. There has been a lot of hard work on the part of both staff and the volunteer leadership to make this involvement happen.
There has also been a concentrated effort by the Society to solicit more involvement from students and the early career professional. The society now boasts 117 student chapters around the world, including in many emerging areas such as India, Ukraine, and Eastern Europe. Each year, SPIE hosts a special event at Optics and Photonics for student leaders from chapters to learn and interact with their fellow students from around the world. This year's event attracted more than 100 student leaders. Students now serve on many standing committees of the Society, such as Education, Publications, and Symposium, providing their unique perspective on how we should do business in the future.
And of course, SPIE continues to provide scholarships and grants for education, nearly $300,000 to 136 individuals and 23 educational institutions last year.
The world of publications has also seen changes. Always an important part of SPIE's role in the community, SPIE launched the SPIE Digital Library just a few years ago. This tool allows individuals to access the specific publications they need quickly and efficiently. SPIE continues to be one of the leading resources for engineering organizations and one of the key cited resources for those pursuing patents. The world of communications continues to change, with online conferences and open access publications. Look to see SPIE growing in those areas in the future.
All the efforts to reach across the globe, to researchers, students, and organizations have been important to the future of the Society. Now I believe is a good time to step back and look at our traditional base of support: working professionals, institutions of higher learning, and the corporate world using optics and photonics in their businesses.
The field of optics and photonics has seen tremendous and steady growth in the past couple of decades. This is truly an amazing time to be involved in this field. I look forward to making what contribution I can to help SPIE step up to the challenge.
Kevin Harding, SPIE'S President for 2008, is a 30-year optics industry veteran. An SPIE fellow, he is principal engineer and project leader for the General Electric Global Research Center in New York where he leads the activity in optical metrology.